Why I Put My Wife’s Career First

I recently blogged here about a new book written by Anne-Marie Slaughter Unfinished Business that addresses her thoughts on equality between men and women, work and family. Now comes a new article this month appearing in The Atlantic written by Andrew Moravcsik, Ms. Slaughter’s husband and lead parent to their two sons, titled “Why I Put My Wife’s Career First.” It tells the other half of the story of their lives together and the parenting decisions they have reached. It is unusual to see such a topic addressed from a working Dad’s point of view.

The statistics noted in the article are what you would expect. “According to a Pew Research Center study, 50 percent of married or cohabiting women report doing more child care than their male partners, whereas just 4 percent of men do more than their female partners. This disparity has a devastating effect on women’s careers. Researchers refer to the gap between male and female wages and seniority as the ‘motherhood penalty’ because it is almost entirely explained by the lower earnings and status of women with children. Despite their superior performance in college, surprisingly few women reach the pinnacles of professional success: they account for only 21 percent of surgeon; 20 percent of law firm partners; and, 9 percent of equity-fund managers.”

Quoting Arlie Hochschild’s The Second Shift, Mr. Moravcsik points out that more than a quarter century has passed since the case was made that women cannot compete fairly with men when they are doing two jobs and men are doing only one. For family and work life balance to improve, men more often need to be willing to serve as the lead parent, even if it is psychologically, culturally and socially challenging. In order to do so, workplace rules and expectations must change or else fathers will pay an unacceptable professional penalty.

Mr. Moravcsik concludes his article as follows “At the end of life, we know that a top regret of most men is that they did not lead the caring and connected life they wanted, but rather the career-oriented life that was expected of them. I will not have that regret.”

This is an interesting article that makes clear that our views and expectations need to change not only about working moms but also in regard to working dads.